2011 Readers Voice Awards: Entertainment

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ULTIMATE DRAG DIVA
Jenna Skyy

Hosts monthly GayBingo event at
the Rose Room inside Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road
214-526-7171
Caven.com

Since this was the Ultimate Diva! edition of the Readers Voice, it behooves us to explore that aspect of gay culture for whom divadom seems inherent: The drag queen (of the 10 finalists, in fact, eight were drag characters). A diva certainly has attitude — and smarts, and talent, and personality — all of which describes Jenna Skyy, who in a few short years has becomes an essential part of the Dallas scene. But Skyy (aka Joe Hoselton) has something more still: A philosophy. Drag feels almost like a political statement the way Hoselton does it, an act of defiance. An act of Pride. She represents something great about being gay and out and open, whether she’s powering down the runway like Jan Strimple or revealing a costume of Gagaesque flamboyance — or, for that matter, calling numbers at GayBingo, the monthly AIDS fundraiser she co-hosts in the Rose Room — Jenna Skyy makes us happy to be … well, just to be.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

BEST LOCAL ARTS ORGANIZATION
Fahari Arts Institute

214-521-3362
FahariArtsInstitute.com

 

BEST LOCAL SINGER
Anton Shaw

AntonShawMusic.com

 

BEST LOCAL BAND
Anton Shaw and the Reason

AntonShawMusic.com


HORSING AROUND | Uptown Players had a banner season according to Voice readers, having the favorite play, ‘Equus,’ above, and tying itself for best musical.

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION (PLAY)
Equus (Uptown Players)

Performed Feb. 26–March 21 at the
Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL PRODUCTION
(MUSICAL) • TIE
Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits (Uptown Players)

Performed Aug. 5–29 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater

Closer to Heaven (Uptown Players)

Performed Oct. 1–24 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater
214-219-2718
UptownPlayers.org

 

BEST LOCAL THEATER DIRECTOR
Harold Steward


BEST MAINSTREAM VENUE PRESENTING MUSIC FOR THE GAY MASSES
Gilley’s Music Complex: The Palladium, The Loft, South Side Music Hall, Jack Daniel’s Saloon

GilleysMusic.com

Thanks to the trio of Kris Youmans, Brad Ehney and Nate Binford, the venues of the Gilley’s Music Complex on the Cedars have been very welcoming to the gays. Once Ehney, who is gay, got on board after his stint at the Granada Theater (another queer-friendly venue), he was intent on bringing a contingent of acts geared toward attracting an LGBT audience. Binford and Yeomans, the straight guys, just wanted a full house. It’s worked out beautifully. Lesbian duo Tegan & Sara filled the huge-ass space of the Palladium Ballroom while Lady Gaga openers Semi Precious Weapons rocked the shit out of the smaller Loft. The gays then came out en masse for Robyn, packing the mid-sized South Side Music Hall. Upcoming acts of queer interest include MEN, Of Montreal and Vivian Girls. (Upcoming non-gay acts aren’t bad, either: The Avett Brothers, George Clinton and Coheed and Cambria.) These guys prove that gays do like their live music and will step out of the gayborhood to get it.

— Rich Lopez

 

OPEN  AIR | Groups like Middle Ground rock the night air at Jack’s Backyard in Oak Cliff, a favorite venue for enjoying live music. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE • TIE

Jack’s Backyard

2303 Pittman St.
Open daily until 2 a.m.
214-741-3131
JacksBackyardDallas.com

Sue Ellen’s

3014 Throckmorton St.
Open daily 4 p.m–2 a.m.
with after-hours dancing
214-559-0707
Caven.com

It’s notable that these two venues would tie for readers’ favorites, because they represent polarities of live music locales. In one corner is Sue’s, the urban Cedar Springs club where the upstairs Vixin Lounge boasts a quality sound system and decent space for an indoor concert. Jack’s, by contrast, takes the music to the outdoors of Oak Cliff, making a nice nighttime event even better, especially in the warms of Texas spring, summer and autumn. Both venues often book gigs for local regulars like Ciao Bella and Anton Shaw, but each has also featured smaller touring artists like Anne McCue and Hunter Valentine.  If the boys want to get it on the live music game, they have lots of catching up to do. The mostly lady-based venues have a lock on bringing the live sounds to the gayborhoods.

— Rich Lopez

 

BEST SMARTPHONE DATING APP
Grindr

Yes, we named this category a “dating app.” Yes, we know for a lot — most? all? — guys who download it, Grindr is more about hookups than long-term relationships. But consider: At one time, admitting you met on Match.com was considered as cringe-worthy as saying you met at a bar while one of you was dancing naked on the pool table. (Oh, right, that’s more a straight-couple thing.) Maybe one day, app-love may become so common it loses any stigma. Anyway, how were we supposed to guess Grindr would win? And truth be told, some of us have found, if not true romance, at least an on-going love connection. And we enjoy chatting with other guys even if we don’t end up as a couple. That’s what dating is, right? Seeing what’s out there and deciding what you want from a partner? Grindr does that. And we’d all be a little lonelier without it.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

 

AIN’T NO BULL | Ragsdale’s standout performance in a one-woman show was enough to win her a lot of fans — enough to name her Dallas’ favorite local actress.

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR (FEMALE)
Q-Roc Ragsdale

Perhaps only Q-Roc Ragsdale could have pulled off her performance in The Bull-Jean Stories last year. Best theater director Harold Steward of Fahari Arts helmed this one-woman show, written by dramatist Sharon Bridgforth. The Bull-Jean Stories takes a look at the struggles of a fictional woman-loving character in the rural South of the 1920s, and her endurance during tough times. Like her character, Ragsdale is a powerful woman using her work as a film director, photographer and actor to stretch the artistic visions of both the black and same-gender-loving communities of Dallas as well as harkening to the strong will and spirit of black LGBTs who have come before her.

— Rich Lopez

BEST LOCAL DRAMATIC ACTOR
(MALE)
Rick Espaillat


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(FEMALE)
Liz Mikel


BEST LOCAL MUSICAL ACTOR
(MALE)
Cedric Neal


BEST DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

 

BEST ADULT DVD RENTAL

TapeLenders

3926 Cedar Springs Road
214-528-6344
TapeLenders.com

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

‘Closer to Heaven’ closes this Sunday at Uptown Players

Closer to Heaven wallows in sex, drugs & rock

The performances in Closer to Heaven surpass the material. If the androgynous Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret were a coke whore and more clearly a woman, she’d probably look and sound a lot like Morgana Shaw’s Billie Trix. In her leather fetish garb, it seems as if the director, Bruce Coleman — here and with his bondage-themed take on Equus last winter — is working through some S&M fantasies at Uptown Players. In Shaw, in thigh-high latex platform boots, he’s found an excellent medium.

DEETS: Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. 2 p.m. $30–$40. UptownPlayers.org

—  Rich Lopez

Pic of the Day: ‘Too gay even for me’

Courtesy of Facebook, this was posted with the caption “One of Bruce Coleman’s rejected costume designs” for his Uptown Players production of Equus earlier this year. Bruce’s reply: “That’s too gay even for me.” So now we have the baseline.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay Dallas’ connection to the Emmy Awards: ‘Temple Grandin’ and Caven’s Rick Espaillat

Rick Espaillat of Dallas, right, appeared in the Emmy-winning HBO movie “Temple Grandin,” in which Claire Danes, center, portrayed autistic animal scientist Temple Grandin, left.

The HBO movie “Temple Grandin” — about the autistic woman noted not just for her advocacy on behalf of those with autism, but also for her work as an animal scientist — hit it big Sunday night at The Emmy Awards, taking home five awards.

Claire Danes won the trophy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.” The movie won for “Outstanding Made For TV Movie.” Mick Jackson won for “Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special.” Alex Wurman won for “Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Special: Original Dramatic Score.” And Leo Trombetta won for “Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie.”

But why should we care? I mean, what was so “gay” about “Temple Grandin” that an LGBT newspaper should take notice (aside from the fabulous black-and-red “rancher outfit” that Grandin herself wore to the Emmys)?

The answer is simple: Rick Espaillat.

Espaillat, the media/public relations manager for Caven Enterprises, has also made a name for himself on stages around Dallas, especially in productions with Uptown Players. He has performed in Uptown productions of “The History Boys,” “Southern Baptist Sissies,” “The Life” and “Equus.” And he has been in commercials for AT&T and Hasbro.

Check out his listing on IMDB, and you’ll find that he has also had roles in “A Thousand Cocktails Later,” “Karma Police,” “Midlothia” and “Love Machine.”

But “Temple Grandin” is the big news right now, and Rick played “the French lecturer” in that one. And even though he didn’t get to stand up on the Emmy stage and get a trophy, I think he deserves recognition for contributing to what was obviously one of the best movies on television this past year. So cheers Rick: Here’s to you.

—  admin

A long overdue assessment of 'Equus'

The Readers Voice Awards have been kicking my butt.

For the last few weeks, my calendar has been dominated by preparing photos, stories and layout for the Readers Voice issue, while trying to keep current with the other issues as well. I think it paid off. But it also means that I haven’t had time to write a few theater reviews for the online edition (there hasn’t been room in the print edition to hold all our stories lately). There were six shows — The Sisters Rosensweig, Opus, The Shape of Things, Boom, Bedroom Farce and Equus — which I saw but didn’t have room to write up. “Tomorrow,” I kept telling mysel. “I’ll find time.”

Well, three of those shows have closed. And one, Equus, is about to. And no reviews yet.

And that’s a shame. Especially because Equus, by our town’s gay theater company, taking over the old DTC space, is a pretty big deal. AND because it’s a very good show. Don’t miss it if you can get to it this weekend.

The play is a masterful psychological drama about a troubled boy and the psychiatrist who tries to unravel his psychosis. The verbal imagery is unshakable — the horses, the pagan rituals, the sex. And Uptown’s production, directed by Bruce Coleman, gives reality to those ideas. Some may call that too literalistic; I simply found it dead-on. While the horse heads are a little too small, everything else about the production design is impressive, including the sculpted bodies of the men playing the horses.

But it’s not a show about man-candy; it’s about humanity and very much sexuality; about how religion s both necessary to some men’s sense of order in the world and a damaging, destructive thing; about how connecting with another person is rife with dangers and rewards. It’s all very well-acted by the cast, including young Max Swarner as the disturbed boy. There are only three more performances; see one if you can.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A sneak peek at the new production of 'Equus'

Uptown Players is mounting — no pun intended — a new production of Equus at the Kalita Humphreys Theater starting later this month, following a successful run on Broadway and London’s West End featuring Daniel Radcliffe as a troubled boy. I attended a photoshoot last night for an upcoming story previewing the show, and got this exclusive pic of two of the stars: Max Swarmer as Alan and Daylon Walton as one of the horses he blinds with a spike. 

Uptown Equus

—  Arnold Wayne Jones